If you showed up early for the Redford Theatre’s Laurel and Hardy Film Festival on Friday, August 27, 2010, you might have found yourself dodging a flying creme pie. The theater enlisted the help of two local L&H groups to re-enact a famous scene from The Battle of the Century (1927).
The evening started innocently, as participants donned their protective gear.
Then the fun started, first with structured, closely refereed and judged one-on-one and two-on-two pie fights, and finally with a free-for-all that unleashed the inner pie-thrower in many contestants and vicariously participating onlookers. It was the Motor City Theatre Organ Society against the Dancing Cuckoos in a fight to the finish!
The referee even proved to the crowd that the pies were real, by tasting the pies in a more formal way than the contest participants.
And afterwards, the Redford Theatre had joined Laurel and Hardy in creating Another Fine Mess.
The event set the stage for a weekend full of movie fun that showed Laurel and Hardy in all their glory, both on the silent screen and in an early talkie. On Friday, organist Dave Calendine accompanied the silent shorts The Second 100 Years (1927) and Liberty (1929), and on Saturday, did the same with Two Tars (1928) and From Soup to Nuts (1928).
In The Great Movie Stars: The Golden Years, author David Shipman praised Laurel and Hardy: “On occasions their building a gag could be glorious, like their antics delivering a piano in The Music Box [shown at the Redford on April 11-12, 2008], but they were even better at sustaining quite simple ideas, like their incompetence as waiters in From Soup to Nuts or their foiled attempts to change trousers in Liberty.”
On both Friday and Saturday, the Redford showed the 1933 sound feature Sons of the Desert, where Laurel and Hardy wore the fezzes that were also on the heads of many of the Redford visitors from the Laurel and Hardy film societies Dancing Cuckoos and Another Fine Mess. Many other members wore the black bowler hats that Laurel and Hardy often used in their comedy routines.
Dave Calendine put in a full weekend of volunteer work with both the silent movie accompaniment and pre-show, intermission, and post-show performances. He even did a quick reprise of the “Honolulu Baby” song that played a prominent role in Sons of the Desert.
Everybody had a great time on this last pure summer weekend. Many picked up the Redford’s new fall schedule, which starts on September 10 and 11 with Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen (1951) and finishes on December 17 and 18 with Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney in White Christmas (1954).
Copyright © 2010 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.